As a forager and farmer, I am constantly coming into contact with this unruly, perennial plant. True to their name, Stinging Nettles deliver a sharp sting to any skin they come into contact with because of the plant’s small needles which contain formic acid. Native to Europe, this plant is spread ubiquitously throughout the US. Besides the sharp sting and the intimidating name, Stinging Nettle has been used as food, medicine, fiber and dye since the bronze age. Like Spinach, Nettles contain extraordinarily high levels of protein and plant-digestible iron. Nettles are also very high in vitamins A, C, and D as well as calcium, potassium, and manganese. When cooked or dried, Nettles completely lose their stinging properties.
Besides the heavenly nutty taste, Nettles are also revered as a medicinal herb and can help in treating arthritis, anemia, hay fever and kidney problems, among other ailments. The dried leaves may be used to make a tea that is useful in alleviating allergy symptoms. One of my favorite ways to eat this nutrient dense plant is to make a creamy pesto with Kuli Kuli’s Moringa powder!
– This plant has fine toothed, tapered, somewhat heart-shaped leaves that are 3-15 cm.
– Small, thin stinging hairs that are visible on the stem and leaves
– Young plants will have smaller, heart-shaped leaves with a purple-ish hue, while the mature plants have longer, pointed leaves that appear very green.
Always wear gloves! To harvest Stinging Nettle safely, you want to cut just the top 3 bracts of the nettle plant. By trimming back your nettles this way, you should be able to harvest multiple cuttings from the same location. Do not harvest Stinging Nettle once it has flowered because it has been known to cause slight irritation to the urinary tract. Other safety precautions include not harvesting close to any contaminated sources (i.e. busy roads)
Nettle Moringa Pesto
– About 5-6 cups of Stinging Nettle Leaves
– ½ cup of Parmesan Cheese
– 1 cup of walnuts
– 3 garlic cloves
– Juice of ½ a lemon
– ½ cup of olive oil
– ½ teaspoon of salt
– 2 tablespoon of Moringa
– Pepper to taste
– Chili flakes to taste
1. Remove leaves from the nettles with gloves
2. Place leaves in a pot of hot (not boiling) water
3. After cooking the leaves for 3-4 minutes, place the leaves immediately in a pot of cold water.
4. Remove leaves from cold water and place in food processor.
5. Blend nettles, walnuts, garlic, olive oil & lemon together.
6. Add cheese, salt, pepper, Moringa and chili flakes to taste
8. Enjoy over spiralized zucchini noodles, pasta, quinoa or freeze for later use.